“The question I ask today is not an easy one. That question is this: what is the spirit of our nation? For one such as ours, this question is complicated, intricate, and at times impossible to answer, especially if one examines it from the perspective of our entire history.

Even that word, history, is hard to define. Do we begin, like the Yankees, at Jamestown? Do we begin with Washington and the Sons of Liberty? Or shall we instead jump to Lee and Davis and the war that sundered the Union? Perhaps we could go farther, but I think beginning at that time when North and South ceased to be regions and instead became nations is a fitting beginning. After all, the South was always less than enthusiastic about some of the more libertine ideals being espoused by the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

In that time, it was easy to see the story as that of slavers refusing to bow down to liberty. Our schools often teach that. But ultimately, this is not the entire truth. It was the start, yes, but as always is the case with imperialists’ wars, the war the planters started was fought by the Working Man. Poor white country boys who signed onto a war they didn’t quite understand. What they knew is that their homes were being attacked, that a government they saw as distant and foreign was now attempting to issue orders that their own local and more legitimate government was refusing.

These men fought for their homes, and died for them. And dying beside them were slaves, sent by force to aid the machines of war, or marching on a desperate bid for freedom, their natural rights leveraged against them. As always, it is the bourgeoisie who reap the benefits of a war fought by the proletariat. This was the way of the world for generations. It is often thought then, that the founding spirit of our country is one of exploitation, of the planter exploiting the slave, of the elite exploiting the commoner. But while they were deluded, it has always been the common man, the working class, that has been the soul and spirit of the South. Though we have stumbled, though we have been weighed down by the sins of our forefathers, we found enlightenment! We found truth! And we rose up! We fought! We took power for the people! For the worker!

In this, perhaps one of our darkest hours, we must remember what we are. We must remember what we fight for, remember the existentials truths of our nation! Dixieland is the home of a working people, of peasants and slaves, now masters of their own destinies! Dixieland is a free land, founded on autonomy and love of the motherland, reborn through the principles of Equality, Brotherhood, and Socialism! Say it with me now! Say it! The South will always be free! The South will always be Red!

The South will always be free! The South will always be Red!

The South will always be free! The South will always be Red!

The South will always be free! The South will always be Red!

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Part #1: Standstill
Part #1: Standstill

“I will not move my army until I am absolutely ready.”

- George B. McClellan[1]​

“I will generally admit that Guns of the North is a fascinating and fun take on the genre of alternative history. Once again, Hawke crafts a strong narrative with a well research cast. But it is my obligation as a historian to look into the plausibility of the work. As far as most Northern Victory novels go, a standard in amongst American authors in the genre, this one goes beyond a singular ‘all-winning’ point of divergence. Many merely have McClellan be given some shocking revelation, or see Sherman step to the forefront through some miraculous victory, or kill off Lee as soon as feasible.

Hawke instead brings in new generals, rather than killing off the old ones. He brings in Hiram Ulysses Grant, a notable officer in the Mexican-American War that was noted for his potential and ability as a strategist, skill as a cavalry rider, and general aptitude. He died of malaria in 1858, but Hawke envisions him as a strong leader that would quickly become a general and leading commander, becoming a voice that joined Sherman in getting McClellan and Halleck both relieved of leadership. With Sherman in command and Grant as the man beneath him, the Union does far better in the early years of the war.[2]

I cannot make a firm judgment on the aptitude of Grant, but his record does indicate some very capable as a soldier and far more aggressive than McClellan. However, he also had issues with alcohol and a strong inclination for combat that could very well have seen him fall against the forces of Lee and Jackson. Notably, he did know Lee, which Hawke uses as grounds for how the Pride of Virginia agrees to a ceasefire, having their time in battle see them form begrudging respect for one another. The assumption that this relationship would ever be so strong, however, is a jump. I will give Hawke credit in that he makes it feel a logical one, and the use of Grant as a figure sympathetic to Lee helps make the restraint shown despite some rather horrid orders from Sherman (orders I personally agree are very much in his character and line of thinking) feel realistic of such a character.

Beyond Grant, the most interesting ‘new character’ Hawke introduces is Major General Chamberlain. We never get the man’s full name, but other historians have commented that he is based heavily on either Thomas Chamberlain, a colonel and later Brigadier General in the war who eventually served with Sherman, or his brother Joshua Chamberlain, who was a professor and later President of Bowdoin College becoming an instructor at West Point and serving as an advisor in the Department of War.[3] I believe he is a mix, but possibly directly an alternate version of Joshua, who gained some notoriety for urging all his students to enlist in the war, and later for sending ideas for tactics to Thomas, who applied them as his own. Joshua, who was even sent on a leave of absence by the school leadership who disliked his jingoism, never enlisted himself despite numerous letters implying her wished to due to a heavy limp sustained from breaking his ankle after a fall in 1858 on the Bowdoin campus. Perhaps Chamberlain in the novel is Thomas, who listened to his brother’s lessons a little better, or a version of Joshua who never broke his ankle and enlisted. Either is dubious in plausibility for how masterful the character is as a soldier. He also serves as a rival and counter to Sickles, keeping the man in check, and this antagonism is without any historical basis beyond Sickles’ lack of likeability and the author’s wishes.[4]

I think the biggest thing that Guns of the North does right is focus on how the faster Northern action needed to be accompanied by restraint on the part of the generals invading. Many novels on this topic fail to look at the animosity and cultural divides the war tore between the North and the South. Hawke is very conscious of these and specifically mentions that too harsh a campaign would like have made an occupation of the South so full of animosity that a revolt would have been inevitable. Perhaps only Dixie, Darkly takes note of this as well but instead follows this narrative concept to create a hellish military-run region oppressed by northern hatred for decades. Of course, Hawke’s novel is far more realistic, and while the author, of course, takes some liberties, I give a general mark of approval.[5] Grant is certainly a case of a ‘perfect commander’ who makes no error, but in many ways, he serves a good foil for Lee’s many real exploits…”

- Chad Verner, review of Guns of the North by Perry Hawke​

[1] I hope not to Flanderize McClellan too much, but his penchant for inaction and inability to make use of principles of mass will be something that will become apparent and important.

[2] Grant really did almost die of malaria after trying his hand at farming. OTL he survived, TTL he died, and this means that he will not be there to command several earlier battles, and this TL does presume that whomever was sent to replace him will be unable to pull off the same victories he accomplished.

[3] John Chamberlain did teach at Bowdoin and did become President of it. He enlisted during his leave of absence/censure, but TTL he broke his ankle badly while running late to a meeting on campus; his foot never heals right, leaving him with a permanent limp that requires the aid of a cane. He never enlists, depriving the Union of another great general. Others will be killed off as well, full disclosure. This is likely influenced by my belief that one PoD is not enough to save the Confederacy.

[4] Sickles, meanwhile, is going to be able to get the upperhand on his rivals TTL. A less than intelligent commander, Sickles is best known for defying orders from Meade at Gettysburg and landing himself in a hospital because of it. He was a highly political general and a gloryhound.

[5] If it wasn’t totally obvious, this is a less ASB parody book of Harry Turtledove’s Guns of the South.

“The war had only just begun, and McClellan was cautious.[6] The capabilities of the South was not truly known, the terrain full of hazards, the population enthusiastic, and they had a number of incredibly capable generals working with all of these variables. If McClellan was anything, it was a man who loathed uncertainty. President Lincoln wanted a more active campaign, but the general thought little of his Commander-in-Chief’s capabilities, referring to him as a ‘well-meaning baboon’.[7] And while a number of generals opposed the level of inaction that McClellan enforced, they ultimately had to do as told by the general-in-chief.

The early war had seen a strong repulsion of the Confederates from Missouri and West Virginia. And several of these victories belonged to McClellan, who swiftly became the rising star of the Union Army. Many worried he was too cautious, waited too long before acting. Given the failure, however, to drive the South from Kentucky, and their control of the entryway to the Mississippi from Belmont and Columbus, alongside their strong defensive line being held by General Joseph E. Johnston in Virginia, there seemed little to do offensively until a crack could be made in the South.[8]

However, pressure was on McClellan to earn victories. He needed glory to his command in order to maintain his post. This, of course, was how he also felt he could save his country. Brigadier General Burnside had seen success in raiding the coast of North Carolina, with an aggressive mindset that McClellan felt was better served poking through the Confederates in the northwest. McClellan generally did not see that theatre as a critical priority, but with few victories there and generally wary of ‘hot-headed’ commanders, it was the perfect choice in his mind to send Burnside. Burnside and his men were sent into Missouri soon after this assessment, the first of many hellish visits for Burnside.[9] His first battle was known as the Battle of Harrison Fields, so named for the farmer killed in the crossfire. The Battle saw a Confederate division from Belmont attempting to encroach West from the river, and Burnside caught word of this. His men moved into position just before a hillscape, crossing its zenith just in time to come into full view for the Southern force.

Thanks in part to Burnside’s reliance on riflemen at Harrison Fields, he began making headway in driving the South from Missouri, successfully taking control of Belmont in December. However, Columbus had only grown into a greater stronghold in that time, described by Burnside as a ‘festering, infected wart.’ This would result in a relationship of mutual disdain for the region that he shared with then Brigadier General William T. Sherman, whose story is of course deserving a book in its own right…

...This would be the victory McClellan needed to secure the respect of his well-planning ways. Pope was much like McClellan, and while Frémont certainly had a low opinion of them both, the fact remained Brigadier General Pope’s victory in Virginia was perhaps the first critical victory of the Union in the Winter of 1861.[10] He had succeeded in routing a force directly under Joseph Johnston’s command thanks to the superiority of resources at his disposal and the careful examination of the terrain that McClellan had championed beforehand. Public support for the two generals rose as press caught wind of the success.

Pope, always a braggart, spoke to them of his and McClellan’s supposedly close correspondence and the genius of their plan. Rather than directly send Union soldiers to their deaths ‘horrid swamps and humid plains,’ Pope had said, ‘they would trap the Southerns in their own grave.’ In holding a firm line and pushing back the ‘foolhardy traitors’ with superior planning, blockades and port raids would mean they would effectively starve them out.[11]

Explained in such a manner, spoken of as making the war nearly bloodless and based in showing the South just what horrors they face without aid, the public had approval for the plan. This, however, outraged Lincoln, as the main strategy of the Union was now in direct discussion by the public at large, and meant that all expected a quick and easy war. While officially in order to ensure he could properly command the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia directly and without hindrance, McClellan was replaced as general-in-chief by Henry Halleck in February of 1862. Of course, McClellan mixed success would only brighten his shine, and make his return to the post logical…” [12]

- The American Civil War, an Annual History by Robert Birch​

[6] What else is new?

[7] This, and the opening quote are both very much real things McClellan said.

[8] Ulysses S. Grant never takes control of Belmont and Columbus from the Confederates in Illinois, and without some other man being sponsored by John C. Frémont, another general is sent to try and win this important position. This utterly alters the general battle plans of the Union in that area, and means fewer competent men. OTL also saw little success early on in Virginia, but it persists more here.

[9] This means that Burnside is never assigned to push into Virginia, and is not as successful in Missouri. This means that the lacking success in Virginia is going to go longer too, and Burnsides weakening of North Carolina is being stopped far sooner. McClellan really did think the Mississipi was better to take slowly, with a focus on the Tennessee River instead. However, without Grant’s victories in Missouri, he needs to get something as a win, and is smart enough to at least know aggression might work there. Additionally, Burnside has already secured enough coastal territory to allow blockading to commence officially. Of course, his early pull out means that Union control in North Carolina’s coast isn’t going to be as strong...

[10] Pope’s victories are only going to embolden belief in McClellan’s slower tactics, which, as we’ll see, will only give the South more time to build strength.

[11] Pope really was a loudmouth and loved being in the spotlight of the media. He lied about his own exploits to get interviews OTL, and so bragging about the Union’s master plan isn’t too much of a jump. And it will have consequences.

[12] Halleck replaced McClellan OTL as well, but a few months later. TTL, the war isn’t going nearly as well despite McClellan and Pope still looking good, frustrating Lincoln further than OTL.

“The Battle of Elizabethtown was a turning point in Sherman’s career. Prior to this, he was known as a paranoid, overcomplaining lout who hated his position in Kentucky.[13] He’d been given orders to press Bowling Green into capitulation, but his frontal assault had resulted in failure. The Confederate garrison held out long enough for reinforcements to fully flank Sherman’s army, inflicting heavy casualties that would make a similar assault infeasible for some time.[14] Instead, he was given orders to try and keep as much of the state under his control as possible. To that end, when word reached his retreating army that Confederate army that hard flanked his so mercilessly had since moved north to occupy Elizabethtown, Sherman marked it his priority target.

Turning his army around, he whipped his troops into a fiery fervor. Some say this was aided by a good bit of liquid courage. Regardless, Sherman had an army that was filled with a lust for revenge, and his loosed them upon the town. The battle was more of a massacre, beginning at sundown, with the far more rambunctious Confederates having a celebration of their victories. Drunk and unprepared, the first shots fired caused a panic. The Confederates had no true formation. They only emerged, trying to fight, from the town into the surrounding area, where Sherman had encircled them. It was at this point that a small fire broke out. The Confederates came running, and Sherman showed no quarter as he opened fire on the fleeing men.

Thus a victory was put onto his belt, and as Sherman had the fire put out, some say an idea came into his mind.[15] It would take some time to grow, festering in his psyche until it matured into his own theories of war. But for now it had given a sense of accomplishment and began to drive out his encroaching depression. However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Word of Sherman’s merciless attack and the fire that came with it circulated, morphing into a sort of dishonorable hunt, Sherman lighting a fire to smoke out his prey before he had them all killed. While inaccurate, Sherman had garnered a reputation, one that soon turned the spies he deluded about into a very real threat around him, the people of Kentucky growing scared of his wrath…

...It was in this attempt at a Northern jab that Burnside and Sherman had their first significant interaction. While Columbus held out, the assault from two fronts had greatly weakened the Confederate position. Burnside proposed a second try, this time with his men moving South and crossing the Mississippi there to allow an attack up towards Columbus. Sherman was keen on the idea, and their planning resulted in the beginnings of a lifelong friendship. Unfortunately, Burnside was needed elsewhere. His focus on Belmont and Columbus had left the rest of Missouri far less defended.

With Burnside unable to coordinate the assault, Sherman abandoned the plan for the moment. Instead, he turned towards Bowling Green, the supposed capital of Confederate Kentucky. His army was nowhere near full strength. Acting quickly, he had a detachment of cavalry remain in the region between Bowling Green and Columbus while he returned to Louisville. These riders had one job, and it didn’t include direct engagement of the enemy. Instead, it was to raid supply caravans, harass moving troops, and sabotage transit, from digging trenches in dirt roads to mangling the few rail lines nearby.

This tactic would later inspire Sherman as the war progressed. He had divided the Confederates in Kentucky, but he, unfortunately, lacked the necessary manpower to exploit that advantage. And, worse for Sherman, his complaining in times past, when he had been more on the edge of mental breakdown, meant that his requests for reinforcements and supplies remained ignored for a while longer…[16]

...McClellan entered Virginia unhappy. He knew the campaign was important, but the fact remained that he had been forced to lead it partly to get him out of Lincoln’s hair. He wrote in a letter that he thanked God that at least someone with a ‘calm head’ had taken his place in the form of Henry Halleck. Halleck was similarly slow-going in tactics, and McClellan was indeed able to put his skillful focus on the campaign before him. His enemy was Joseph Johnston, still in command of Northern Virginia for reasons unknown after his loss to Brigadier General Pope.

This meant a tactical game was afoot. Johnston was cautious. Like McClellan, he preferred to plan things carefully, but unlike McClellan he had a far superior scouting force that knew the region incredibly well.[17] This set the Union army on high alert. They were in the enemy’s turf, against a man who knew how to plan out an attack. Marching from Fort Monroe, they saw combat at Yorktown, a battle that McClellan was thankfully able to win despite the larger width of the Confederate line, due to the greater overall size of the landing Union force. Occupying Yorktown, McClellan left a solid chunk of his men to stay there as a garrison, leaving Keyes in command, hoping they might serve as rear reinforcements in case Johnston played any tricks.[18]

Some wonder what the campaign might have been like had McClellan not been in direct command from its start. He was controlling, and turned the planned rush up the peninsula into a crawl. Johnston pressed an attack only a few miles from Yorktown, and McClellan was forced to begin a retreat. His placement of Keyes as a rearguard, however, inadvertently worked out for him, as Keyes had decided to leave Yorktown in impatience, intending to follow his commander from a distance. This meant that as McClellan entered the town, furious to find it empty and quickly attempting to fortify, Johnston saw a chance to press an attack. It was a bold move rare for the man, but the situation was a strong enough advantage, and given the prize McClellan would be if captured, he took the risk. Keyes came in as if out of nowhere a few hours later, hitting Johnston’s rear and right flank.[19]

This gave McClellan a chance to lead a charge out of Yorktown that broke the army and ultimately saw Johnston be forced to surrender. Captured and humiliated, Johnston was quickly placed under arrest, and it seemed that the Union was going to win the Peninsula. Or they would have, had Lee not just arrived. Mysteriously absent for some time, he had now come to reinforce Virginia and the capital of Richmond. McClellan was struck by the aggressive Lee in late May and early June, and his hold on the Virginian peninsulas faltered. A retreat had to be ordered, though they took Johnston and many of his men with them. Leaving from Fort Monroe, it was a mixed bag. Still, the capture of Joseph Johnston was a victory, and the prowess of Robert E. Lee was known, and meant that a loss to him so soon after annihilating another Confederate army did little to curb McClellan’s fame.

The Peninsula Campaign had failed, and yet McClellan was still on the rise. Upon his return to Washington, DC he was not immediately given the position of general-in-chief. However, it would be restored to him in July of 1862 when Halleck was asked by Lincoln to lead an attack into Tennessee. Some believed the president preferred McClellan in command rather than ‘blundering into fame’ on the field, as Lincoln once said of his general.

Joseph Johnston was tried for treason and sentenced to prison. However, in September 1862 he attempted an escape alongside several other Confederate prisoners of war from a military jail with the aid of a sympathizer in the guard. He would be shot dead in the escape. Of course, the story was soon changed as it reached the South, that Johnston and his men had all been executed, a riot used as a flimsy excuse to do so.[20] This rumor soon sparked a fervor in the South; they were traitors, there was no questioning that, and now it seemed clear that the Union was out to kill them all for it. As early as October 1 there was a new poster being put up in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Charleston to try and recruit men to enlist, and it had on it a phrase that resonated in the hearts of many, and made them feel much as their forefathers had when they chose to fight the British: Join or Die.”

- The Civil War; As Told by a Northerner and a Southerner by Thomas G. Elliot and Abraham Booker​

[13] Sherman was this in OTL as well. He had to take a leave of absence to clear his head of mass paranoia and severe depression. He returned in a far better headspace to become the legend we all know.

[14] Without Grant taking Columbus and Belmont, the Confederates have a strong presence in western Kentucky, while Sherman is under even more pressure to find success.

[15] A mentally unstable Sherman, drunk on victory (and just drunk), staring at burning buildings, I’m sure nothing bad will come of that.

[16] A bit of the ol’ Boy Who Cried Wolf

[17] OTL Confederate use of native (that is to say, white Virginian locals) scouts gave them a strong tactical advantage in several cases.

[18] McClellan had a bad habit of leaving men behind. He liked to plan, and so preferred to leave areas under guard as he marched forward, failing to make much use of advantages he had at his disposal or the momentum of victory. In being in command of the Peninsula from the start, what should have been a faster conquest is being slowed down and disjointed in its building of momentum.

[19] Keyes could have also just been ready to do that later if McClellan hadn’t tried to chain him to Yorktown. In theory, this battle shows the importance of building up victories and using aggressive, surprise tactics to keep hammering at the enemy. But since Keyes was lagging close behind McClellan unintentionally, yet still due to McClellan’s order to stay back, McClellan only looks more like a smart commander.

[20] This matter will be a topic of debate for historians of TTL. Furthermore, as you can see it also will have contemporary consequences.

“It had been a question since 1862 had rolled in: Where was Lee? He seemed to appear back on the front only in late May. Even then, he gave a few orders before letting generals beneath him hold pressure on McClellan while he departed. It was only in June that General Lee was truly back in command. And he had with him the Army of the Appalachians. The truth soon became evident as these men under the Pride of Virginia did battle with the Army of the Potomac under the command of General Henry Halleck at the Second Battle of Sitlington's Hill.[21]

These men were no ordinary force of rabble. They weren’t a few young fools being barked at by aging veterans. No, they were young, but a well oiled fighting force, with clear training and practiced maneuvers. As it became apparent to Halleck, Lee’s absence had been spent training and drilling the militia he had been given into a true military, an army of the Confederacy that could go blow for blow with the boys of West Point.[22] What they lacked in experience, they made up for in spirit, firmly in belief of their cause, a fact that only grew stronger when word came of General Joseph Johnston’s execution.

Many military historians blame the inactive stance of McClellan and Halleck, but the fact of the matter was that the Confederacy had managed to keep the Union from making significant headway in the South. It had become clear to the government in Richmond that the North was taking a defensive stance. Truthfully they were most emboldened by General Pope’s very public declaration of this fact in the Winter of 1861, and it was decided, with General Johnston at the time successfully holding Virginia, to give General Lee a fresh army, but to then allow him a period of time exclusively to train and drill this army, a decision Lee took on with gusto. Many have made allusions to Washington at Valley Forge, with Lee taking the boys under his command to the mountains in southwestern Virginia and making them train and train and train, giving speech after speech.

Given Lee’s discomfort with how deified he seemed to be amongst the army, many suspect he had little idea just how much his words would get to these young men. They weren’t just fresh cadets in need of morale, but scared civilians, fighting a war they barely understood. Lee’s speeches gave them direction, gave them purpose, and he was soon being called ‘Granny Lee’ and ‘Uncle Bobby’ when not present, many of his men seeing him as a father figure.[23] Most startling to Lee was at the erroneously named Battle of Arlington, when Private James Beaufort ‘Jimbo’ Tucker intentionally jumped and shoved Lee from his horse, knocking him to the ground just as a Union rifleman attempted to shoot him. Tucker was shot in the neck and shoulder, and bled profusely over Lee, who tried to ask the boy if he was alright. As recorded in Lee’s journals;

‘He looked up at me and smiled. Smiled, as blood made his uniform look British. He said to me, ‘Just glad you’s alright, uncle.’ Jimbo couldn’t have been more than seventeen. When he first joined I knew he wasn’t old enough, but I turned a blind eye to it. And then he was dead. A child jumped to his death to save me, only caring for me, calling me his kin when he had come from South Carolina. Did Washington bear this burden? Did Napoleon? To have boys look at you like a god and be so eager to give their own life for you?

‘I have watched men die before. I have even looked them in the eye. But a boy so young, all while I knew more boys were dying around me. I write this now, knowing it to be truer than ever: There is not a thing on this Earth more horrid, tragic, or vile than War. I say that as a warrior, a general, a slayer of men. May God have mercy upon us who command, for our hands are stained with the blood of friend and foe alike.’

This passage often seen by most as the beginning of Lee’s slow withdrawal from the world. Many wanted him to run for President of the Confederacy, but he would refuse time and time again…

...The Army of Appalachia struck hard at Fredericksburg,[24] with Stonewall Jackson’s Army of Northern Virginia supplemented after a grueling battle against Henry Halleck, who had again replaced McClellan as general-in-chief, the two men having become rivals. Robert E. Lee broke the stalemate that had begun to form, and turned what was an even fight into a massacre.

Bloody and swift, the battle saw few men survive. One of the few men to garner a degree of victory and strike a strong blow against Jackson was a unit under the commander of George Meade. While stille forced to retreat, Meade was promoted quickly, and given command. Pope was handed control of the Army of the Potomac after Halleck’s death at Fredericksburg.[25] McClellan, then, was once again in command of the US military. His attention went West, hoping to use Burnside, Pope, and Sherman to gain more victories to aid the war effort, siphoning men away from Meade and later from Sickles in a move that ultimately left the North ripe for Lee’s Invasion…”

- Washington of the South by Todd Jacobson​

[21] This could also be called the Second Battle of McDowell. TTL as well as OTL, Stonewall was kicked from West Virginia, but here it is Halleck who is trying to follow Stonewall’s path out the Shenandoah Valley to try and press into Virginia. And here is Lee to stop him.

[22] This is, of course, a nationalist historians overproportion of the army’s capabilities, as they have become mythologized in the years since. They are, however, probably one of the best trained armies under the Confederate banner. OTL, much of the Confederacy was quickly trained and lacking in discipline. TTL, the less aggressive Union means that the Confederates invest more in creating a professional army. Certainly, their armies did gain experience and skill, but it was on the ground, and against Union armies of similarly inexperienced volunteers. This army is instead one that has drilled and drilled and drilled and trained and trained for months before being put to march.

[23] Lee had these nicknames OTL too, or a variant of them. The average age of the army was also under 30, and that’s with old veterans raising the mean too. These are young men being trained by an idol.

[24] The Battle of Fredericksburg still happens at roughly the same time, and is perhaps even worse than it was OTL thanks to Lee’s stronger army.

[25] This is a pretty rapid rise for Meade, but is due to having in more acclaim for surviving and getting in a few good licks at Fredericksburg. But we now have Pope leading the Potomac with McClellan back as general-in-chief.

“The Bonnie Blue saw a resurgence in usage as 1862 rolled in, with the Stars and Bars having been a confusing battle flag on a number of occasions. While some disliked the usage of blue, so linked to the uniforms of the Union Army, the Bonnie Blue flag held a sort of reverence for the men of Mississippi, a number of which formed a part of Lee’s Army of Appalachia. While they had their own regimental flag, they carried the Bonnie Blue as their banner into battle, and it was then subsequently used in Western Theatre by men promoted to command from under Lee, and Stonewall Jackson also then used it after one particularly embarrassing instance of firing on one of his own units whose flag had gotten turn up, the shreds looking like numerous stripes rather than two large bars.[26]

The famous battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia was also used by Jackson, and would later become the basis for the second naval jack of the Confederate Navy. Ironically, a flag looking much like the first naval jack was starting to creep into civilian centers, stitching stars onto blue sheets to create a ‘new’ Bonnie Blue to represent the larger Confederacy. While the government would, during wartime, declare a new banner bearing the Northern Virginia saltire in the canton of a white field as the national flag, it failed to gain great use as high winds made it become a flag of surrender.[27] Thus the civilian Bonnie Blue spread to the military as well.

By the war’s end, the new government proposal for a flag was rejected in favor of continued use of the updated Bonnie, but a second proposal would come that combined both proposals. From the perspective of most historians, however, the Bonnie Blue was the popular, if unofficial flag of the Confederate States from 1862 to 1866.”

- Flags of North America by Enrico Fernandez​

[26] This story isn’t real, and could be apocryphal even in TTL, but it is true the Stars and Bars were incredibly confusing on the battlefield due to the similarity to the US flag, which is how battleflags like the infamous Northern Virginia saltire got so widespread in use. Here, it’s the Bonnie Blue making a comeback.

[27] This is true OTL as well. The ‘Stainless Banner’ would look like a flag of surrender, causing confusion and issues in battle. The Confederate government weren’t fans of the Bonnie Blue though, seeing Blue as a Yankee color. However, the populace and military alike are adopting it far more than they are the Stainless banner.

“Bonnie Blue Flag

1. We are a band of brothers and native to the soil
Fighting for the liberty we gained by honest toil
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars![28]

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

2. As long as the Union was faithful to her trust
Like friends and like brethren, kind were we, and just
But now, when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

3. First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand
Then came Mississippi and took her by the hand
Next, quickly Alabama, Florida, and Georgia
All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

4. Ye men of valor gather ‘round the banner of the right
Louisiana and fair Texas join us in the fight
Davis, our loved President, and Uncle Lee a general rare [29]
Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

5. Now here's to brave Virginia, the Old Dominion State,
With the young Confederacy at last has sealed her fate,
And spurred by her example, every other state prepares
To hoist high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

6. Then cheer, boys, cheer, raise a joyous shout
For Arkansas and North Carolina now have both gone out,
And let another rousing cheer for Tennessee be given,
The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag has grown to be eleven.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

7. Dixies, one and all, are proud that's a fact
As Missouri and Oklahoma now have joined our pact
And each every soldier mans his noble station
For now that Bonnie Blue Flag flies across our nation.[30]

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

8. Then here's to our Confederacy, strong we are and brave,
Like patriots of old we'll fight, our heritage to save;
And rather than submit to shame, to die we would prefer,
So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars.

Hurrah! Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears our sov’reign stars!"

- “Bonnie Blue Flag,” National Anthem of the Confederate States
[28] This is originally “that bears a single star.” The original Bonnie Blue has only one star. TTL, a flag of the same name has more stars, and so the line is changed for the anthem post-war. The term “sovereign stars” reflects the supposed strength of states’ rights in the Confederacy. And, to be clear, the only state right being fought over in the war was that of slavery, but in crafting a national anthem and a national mythos, states rights is the narrative TTL, as even in OTL many Southerns were uncomfortable with slavery, if believing it a necessity.

[29] This line is changed to show the love for Davis and Lee equally as founding figures. They are effectively the Jefferson and Washington of the Confederacy, one as the great Statesman and Framer of the Constitution, the other the Great General who won them the war.

[30] This verse is entirely original and gives slight spoilers for the wars end if you’re paying attention.


The Bonnie Blue
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So ITTL timeline the CSA gets Missouri? What about west Virginia and Kentucky?

The Confederacy has still failed to get a hold of West Virginia, driven out repeatedly, and the population is strongly Unionist. It will be admitted as a separate state from Virginia just like OTL, TTL being seen as the 'natural border' with the South. As for Kentucky... well, you'll see soon enough what Sherman does in Kentucky.

Please, if you can, go straight up to the very end. World needs this tl.

All good things to those who wait. Part #2 should either wrap up the war or mostly wrap it up.
Kentucky, watch the fuck out with Sherman in charge of you...

IMO, Sherman did the burning of Atlanta and the March to the Sea in an effort to try and break the Confederacy (he has the famous quote of "War Is Hell", and disdained military glory)...
Kentucky, watch the fuck out with Sherman in charge of you...

IMO, Sherman did the burning of Atlanta and the March to the Sea in an effort to try and break the Confederacy (he has the famous quote of "War Is Hell", and disdained military glory)...

I generally agree, but you have to remember that he is in a pretty hostile environment and is less mentally stable than OTL. He never gets that break to go home to his wife and fully get rid of his depression and paranoia.
Given this TL doesn't seem to be giving the CSA military hypercompetence, yet only one updates remains before the end of the war, I predict that union success will be reduced just enough for a certain spineless general to win the presidency in 1964 and decide that that it's not worth it for the nation to waste men reconquering plantation and swamps.

(I do wonder sometimes if the USA would be better off in the long run with the south cut loose, since it wouldn't have the reactionary plantation owners dragging it down. Main problem with that is it means an unshackled and unstable slaver confederacy.)
Given this TL doesn't seem to be giving the CSA military hypercompetence

I won't comment just yet on what else you said, but on this point I did want to say something. My idea for this TL was not to give the South strength, but to weaken the North. I don't think Grant is the end all, be all, saving grace of the Union. But I do think that not having him early on in the Western Theatre allows a shift in Union tactics that gave me as author the ability to handicap the North by ensuring McClellan's rise to prominence and securement of his position as general-in-chief.

That brings me to Lee's Army of Appalchia. This is giving the South some strength, but OTL there was little time to properly train an army once the pressure on by the Union. TTL, the North wastes enough time that Lee is able to raise what we could call a second Army of NV.
Part #2: The Dogs of War
Part #2: The Dogs of War

“War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

- William T. Sherman​

“Elizabethtown had been Sherman’s first real victory. And with his so-called ‘outlaws’ harassing Confederate supply lines between Columbus and Bowling Green, he had effectively paralyzed the growth of Southern hold in Kentucky, if only momentarily.[1] But his loses prevented him from making use of this advantage, and it frustrated Sherman to no end. Worse, the rumors concerning Elizabethtown had made many in Kentucky far more sympathetic to the Confederate cause, allowing the growth of a network of spies that made local recruitment dangerous. Naturally, Sherman was on edge, but determined to win. It struck him that his first taste of victory had come through surprise and ruthless attack on a weakened and disoriented foe.

Some decry Sherman, particularly here in the South, as a savage man, prone to violence. But Sherman did not enjoy war. Much like Lee, he often found it a horrid affair. Kentucky birthed in him not a taste for war, but a viewpoint; that wars end quickest when you are without mercy. Honor and restraint only lengthened the battle, saw more lives lost, businesses ruined, spouses separated, children fatherless. ‘If one man’s honor,’ he wrote, ‘or even a hundred, is enough to see this war ended faster, then that is a fair price. If one man need become the Devil, need damn his soul, to bring salvation to thousands, then I gladly give myself to the fire. I will be judged a monster, by God and country, but not by posterity…’[2]

...McClellan had thankfully turned some attention West, funneling men in pursuit of vainglory, hoping as well to try and draw the South towards that Theatre. The West was far less strategically important in McClellan’s mind, and he was more willing to abandon it entirely once the South made it a focus. Whatever his reason, Burnside and Sherman were just thankful that he had given them supplies.

Missouri was an odd place between the two. While the Confederates did occupy territory along the river, the state had technically been neutral, but the sustaining Confederate presence had emboldened secessionists who formally declared their joining of the Confederacy in the Summer of 1861, a fact that given Burnside a considerable headache. Like in Kentucky, the Confederates had a declared another city their capital, occupying Joplin and commanding from it before eventually making Springfield their capital after several attempts to take the city.

While some lay the blame on Burnside, the fact was that he was focused on holding the Mississippi, and spent more time trying to crack Columbus that anything else after he took Belmont.[3] When he finally turned West to deal with Joplin, he found himself bogged into battle at Mountain Grove, twice at Gainesville, losing the second time, and thrice at Springfield. This was in large part due to his opponents, General John B. Hood and PGT Beauregard. Beauregard has often been called the Sherman of the South in regards to his unrelenting tactics, but Hood was perhaps one of the most reckless commanders in the Confederacy, and maybe one of the luckiest as well. He wanted to take all of Missouri, and pushed at Burnside again and again until he took Springfield.

Then it was a chase to Belmont and the Mississippi. Burnside held, but Beauregard was now free to reinforce Kentucky, which resulted in enough pressure on Burnside that retreat seemed inevitable. And yet he did not. He held his ground, dug in his heels, had every marksman he could grab fire across the water, picking off some of Beauregard’s best men. It was at this point that Sherman’s Outlaws came in to assist Burnside. While not a large force, the arrival of a sudden cavalry charge from the rear threw the Confederates into disarray. They had to quit the field of battle, and so Burnside was able to push at Hood. Regardless, while word of Burnside’s heroism spread to the media,[4] many saw the overall situation as just more of the same on the Mississippi.

McClellan thus tasked his up-and-coming right hand man, General Pope, to assist Sherman in Kentucky as Spring came in full force in 1863. His hope was that giving the cautious Pope command of a ‘mad dog’ like Sherman would be a winning play. From the start, the two men came to hate each other. Sherman in particular loathed how hesitant Pope was to commit men to offensive movements. Certainly, spies were an issue, but to Sherman that only meant an incentive to keep active and unpredictable, let their information become useless or unintelligible when it reached Confederate ears.[5]

By April, they had made little progress, and Sherman, growing restless, left Pope’s operational base in Louisville, and marched straight to the peace-time capital of the State of Kentucky; Frankfort, which had been in Confederate hands for several weeks, the second occupation of the city, thanks to Pope’s inactivity. It is telling of how little Beauregard had wanted to commit to the city that the small garrison fled after hearing that ‘Redskin Tecumseh’ was on his way.[6] Sherman took the city peacefully, though the populace was less pleased. They were Unionists, but Sherman was a startling man, by reputation and in person. Now on his own, and writing rather coarse letters informing Pope that his ‘slug of a spine’ was free to ‘kiss a cannon,’ Sherman began making preparation for a strong-armed campaign. His target: Bowling Green…”

- The Darkest Days of the Civil War by Jeremy G. Blythe​

[1] This actually makes Sherman technically more successful in Kentucky than the Union was OTL by this point, but they still hold the Mississippi and he doesn’t have the manpower to really kick them out.

[2] I’m absolutely certain nothing bad could come from this mindset at all.

[3] Burnside was a decent commander, but just not good enough to tackle the issue he’s being sent up against. However, he’s too aggressive and too poorly connected for McClellan to want him elsewhere.

[4] This is to say that people think Burnside is a hero, but think his superiors are bungling the war.

[5] Sherman’s still paranoid, but in a ‘act quick and get em before they get you’ kind of way, while Pope is paranoid in a ‘if I stay in my room nothing can hurt me’ kind of way.

[6] A new nickname not from OTL. Basically just taking his native-inspired middle name and calling him a savage.

“[Enter SICKLES, holding a comically large bundle of papers. He drops them on MEADE’s desk, who looks up unamused. When SICKLES speaks, it is without a hint of respect.]

SICKLES: Here you are, sir! Fresh reports and proposals for how to respond to the ongoing situation in the Shenandoah.

[MEADE slowing caps his pen and inkwell, looking at SICKLES, visibly annoyed]

MEADE: We both know that half of these are nonsense. Another third are set to get me killed. And all of them are merely a means of wasting my time.[7]

SICKLES: Waste your time? Meade, you’re wasting all of our time. What we both know is that YOU will NEVER be able to beat Lee.

MEADE: That is Major General Meade to you, Sickles!

SICKLES: Don’t make me laugh. Your rank and your command are only because Hooker, rest his soul, died by Lee’s hand.

MEADE: I ought to have you thrown in irons and shot for your tone.

SICKLES: But you aren’t. The other commanders are on my side, they’d turn on you.[8]

MEADE: You’re going to threaten me with treason? Those men are only ‘on your side’ because you lie through your teeth so often I’m shocked they haven’t all rotted out.

SICKLE: It isn’t treason to save the Union!

[MEADE stands]

MEADE: Save the Union? You are damn lucky I am need of strong morale, Sickles, or else you would be under arrest for insubordination. But once we beat Lee, I’m going to have you court-martialed. Unlike the cowardly shit you spit, that is no threat, Sickles. It’s a promise, unless you reign in your cowardice and greed and act like a proper soldier!

[SICKLES steps back, looking somewhat frightened]

SICKLES: I… sir, I apologize. I crossed the line. I… I have not slept well, Mea- Er, Major General. And this campaign… it seems doomed to fail.

[MEADE seems suspicious]

MEADE: You have been trying to be rid of me for some time now Sickles, and before that you criticized Hooker, and you have repeatedly been branded a schemer. I do not trust you, and do not think you can remove that with a pitiful lie like that.

SICKLES: No, sir, it is true! Ask Chamberlain, I toss, I turn, I even shout most nights. It isn’t just me, many of us are uncertain. It… it has begun to affect our work, and I apologize. I will go to the men tonight, sir, and I will tell them to have hope. That Major General Meade knows what he’s doing and that you and I have a clear understanding.

[MEADE scoffs]

MEADE: You do that, Sickles.

[MEADE returns to his work, tossing the papers SICKLES brought in to the floor. SICKLES departs, but turns and gives MEADE one last hateful glare.]

[The chaos increases. SICKLES looks around from horseback, seeing men running about, the sound of gun and cannonfire mixing with screams and horses to become cacophonous. The sparse trees between the ruined farmland cast sinister shadows. CHAMBERLAIN is seen in the distance leading a forward charge.]

SICKLES: God in Heaven…

UNION SOLDIER: Sir! Sir! General!

[SICKLES snaps from his trance]


UNION SOLDIER: Sir, what do we do?! The other men need our help, but our orders were to flank.

[SICKLES looks left, and there’s a zoom on MEADE, a horde of grey uniforms pressing on him. He falls from his horse into the Mud Run, rising to fight, clearly in need of help. SICKLES smiles. It is slow and sinister.]

SICKLES: We’re proper soldiers. We follow the Major General’s orders. Move to flank, men!

[SICKLES and his men move forward. Cut to MEADE, watching them leaving. He locks eyes with SICKLES across the battlefield. Sound fades. A singular gunshot as MEADE cries in pain.]”

- Excerpt, Brother Against Brother, dramatic anthology SA collection[9]​

[7] This is an exaggeration for the sake of drama and dry humor, of course. As is most of this scene.

[8] The real reason Meade isn’t having Sickles court-martialed is because this is a movie and likely never happened at all, but makes for good conflict.

[9] “Scar, brother! Help me!” “Long live the King.” Also, SA is basically film or movie. Collection is season or series. So this is an anthology film/tv series about the Civil War

“Lee’s Invasion of the North, also known as the Harrisburg Campaign, was a rapid push into the now poorly defended Shenandoah Valley. With two strong armies in the region, Lee left Virginia is good hands with JEB Stuart trouncing Rosecrans in Tennessee and Stonewall Jackson’s Army of Northern Virginia keeping Richmond safe. With word of Lee’s mobilization, Lincoln, fearing an attack towards Washington, ordered that the Army of the Potomac march into Virginia to weaken Lee. Lincoln had previously granted command of the army to John C. Frémont in hopes of a more aggressive doctrine, hoping to use Frémont’s habit of acting on his own to Lincoln’s advantage. His insubordinance had seen Frémont removed from command of the West in favor of Pope by McClellan, but now the President had hoped Frémont might again defy McClellan’s orders. But, he didn’t. Frémont had begun to tire of Lincoln who, given the war’s lacking progress, had refused to aid the passage of laws against slavery, not wanting to damage North-South relations any further.[10] Frémont toed McClellan’s line, if only to get back at Lincoln, once writing to the President that he agreed it to be a shame when in a position to act fail to take a bold and daring stance.[11]

Lincoln had Frémont promptly removed, not caring for McClellan’s recommendations, and handed command of the army to General Joseph Hooker, who agreed to go for Lee, who was at this point already making his way to the Shenandoah. Hooker moved to engage Lee, but would not succeed. After a decisive victory at Chancellorsville that injured Hooker, Lee began his march. Hooker would succumb to infection and McClellan put General George G. Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac, who pursued Lee. Many believe McClellan preferred not to restore Frémont’s command as it stood, using the President’s anger as a chance to rid himself of a less than helpful commander...

...The Army of Appalachia was simply too tough a foe to defeat in any one stroke. Meade began a campaign of harassment, hoping to score a few smaller victories that would see Lee forced to retreat, at which time the Union could send someone further South to finish him off. Many have called this a smart strategy that was set to work rather well, and one that showed Meade to be a general not seeking glory but victory regardless of fame.[12]

Most examination of Lee’s notes at the time support Meade’s assessment of tactics. Lee’s army was able to move rapidly, and battles, victory or loss, were quick affairs that always bloodied the enemy a fair deal. However, despite the ability to march quickly and orderly and fight with efficiency, such a large and high-quality force had a great deal of resource consumption. This made Lee’s goal one of speed, not triumph. He intended to hit Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a move that he believed would startle the North into pressing for peace.[13] Meade’s constant small assault intensified Lee’s lack of resources, and he faltered on more than occasion, allowing Meade to inflict more casualties in his raids that he should have been able to...

...The Battle of Harrisburg is improperly named. The Union name is more appropriate, as the Confederate name derives more on the original goal of the battle, which was a final crushing of Meade’s army before an assault on Harrisburg itself. The Union calls it the Battle of Mud Run, for the small creek that was the site of the battle. The farms flanking the creek had the most fighting, first as Lee dug in, forcing Meade to cross the river, then after the Union was pushed back, the other side became where the Union would make an attempted stand under Sickles before retreating.

But while a Confederate victory, it was a pyrrhic one. Confederate losses were high, and every dead Union soldier was more ammunition lost, and almost all their medical supplies and food had been lost too. Lee had to retreat, so close to his prize.[14] He did so with a good amount of hesitation but reasoned that the Union would be demoralized enough. He failed, of course, to account for how much of a schemer General Sickles would prove to be.

As Lee turned South, Sickles had taken command of the Potomac after Meade’s death. Seeing that the Confederate general was heading South and not North to Harrisburg, he accurately surmised that Lee didn’t have the manpower. A runner had already gone to inform Harrisburg of the oncoming Confederates, but nothing ever came. Instead, Sickles chased Lee, keeping close to him. One a few occasions, he mimicked Meade and had a small detachment harass the Army of Appalachia. Word of this circulated and combined with how the ‘impending attack’ on Harrisburg had vanished. Some wondered if Sickles had somehow bested Lee, and the General was quite pleased to hear such rumors.

Sickles would go on to encourage them and even took credit for how his flanking attack on Lee, combined with his ‘quick thinking’ to harass Lee’s army even after a ‘strategic fallback’ at Mud Run ultimately ‘broke’ the Confederates. Sickles, as he casually pursued an enemy that had already decided to return home, was becoming known as the Man Who Beat Lee, the General who ran Uncle Bobby back home to Virginia and, as the story evolved, singlehandedly saved Harrisburg and indeed all of Pennsylvania from demise at the hands of vicious Southerners…”

- On the Eastern Theatre by Benjamin J. L. Parker​

[10] So, basically with the war a near stalemate, Lincoln is holding out on trying a diplomatic solution. That means illegalizing slavery is out of the question. But the same circumstances are also breeding resentment between North and South that the Radical Republicans are capitalizing on.

[11] Frémont was notorious for being passive-aggressive as all hell, and prone to letting his own pettiness and emotions stand in the way of tactical victory. Thus, I feel this is in character for him as one of the leaders of the aforementioned empowered Radical Republicans.

[12] The accuracy of this is up for debate. However, given Meade’s fate, this is mostly aggrandizement of someone a lot of people think would have been very helpful in the war. Meade’s survival will be a common trope in TTL’s “Northern victory” alternate history.

[13] This was Lee’s goal OTL. TTL he’s moving faster than he did before.

[14] As in OTL, Lee’s eyes are bigger than his stomach, metaphorically speaking.

“So, who knows what’s special about the Battle of Bowling Green? James?”

“Well, uh, I know it’s also called something else.”

“Ha, alright, and can you give me that name? The name kind of gives away what's special about it.”

“It’s the Burning of Bowling Green.”

“Very good, James. The Burning of Bowling Green. Robby, you haven’t talked all day. Can you take a guess what that name means for the significance?”

“Er, Master Percival, I-i-i don’t really know much about th--”

“Aw, nonsense, Robby. You are probably one of the most informed people on history I know. Now c’mon, speak up. I know you know this. You’ve been quiet all day, no chance of looking like a know-all if you say this one thing.”

“Alright… It was the destruction of the city of Bowling Green by William Sherman. He attacked quickly, mostly moving at night to prevent word of his attack reaching the town, and he struck early in the morning.”

“There’s the Robby I know. With some extra information, too! Yes, Sherman struck in a surprise attack that he had been planning for some time. The city wasn’t prepared for that kind of assault. Now while Sherman had intended to hit the city hard, he had also been hoping for an easy win. Instead, he got a whole city that picked up arms, and a militia was fighting him in the streets as he tried to enter.[15] Sherman would ultimately succeed, but he wanted to make a blow against the Confederacy, and also wanted to round up the town to arrest any remaining Confederates. Now, the fire probably wasn’t intentional. It had been very dry and even a knocked over lantern could have sparked a good deal of issue.[16]

“But, you see, this was Sherman’s second sight of a fire breaking out while he was assaulting a town. At Elizabethtown, he had put out the flames. At Bowling Green, the city seemingly full of Confederate sympathizers and traitors in his eyes, he just let the fire grow as he pulled his men out. And it grew and grew, consuming much of the town as Sherman watched. The story goes that one of Sherman’s men asked what they were going to do. He replied, ‘We’re going to let this place be wiped away. And the ash will make the land fertile, and one day loyal Americans will come here to settle it anew.’ I don’t know if this part is true or just a story made up to jive with what Sherman would go on to say in his political career. Saul, why wasn’t there a large army defending the town?”

“Oh! Uh… Uh… Uh… … I don’t know.”


“Beauregard was in the middle of battling General Pope at the Second Battle of Elizabethtown.”

“Yes, PGT was in the middle of an engagement when Sherman hit Bowling Green. He received word not long after winning that battle, which ironically was supposed to be the start General Pope’s meticulously planned conquest of Kentucky. Instead, Beauregard won, and Pope ended up with a leg amputated. The response to Bowling Green was incredibly negative, some even think that it could have gotten much of Kentucky to flip grey. But, as luck would have it, which I admit may be a poor phrase here, Beauregard was furious. He went after Sherman, who retreated to Frankfort. There these two titans did battle. Two unrelenting forces smashed into each other. Beaugard broke through Frankfort’s defensive, determined to win at all costs, but he miscalculated Sherman’s strength. By the time the Confederates were entering the city, they were too small a force to hold the city. Fighting spread throughout, and though Sherman retreated, Beauregard lost control of his men. They loot and ransacked, screaming for revenge for Bowling Green, and before he could stop them, they started a fire and spread it.

“Beauregard would have to flee the city, and it was destroyed, with untold civilian casualties, more than Bowling Green ever had. He had also lost so many men in the chaos, that he was a sitting duck for Sherman, who had regrouped his men. He’d intended a counter-attack to retake the city, but with it up in flames he used the advantage to ensure Beauregard couldn’t escape. PGT Beauregard died there, and so ended the Burning of Frankfort, the city in ruins by the time the battle was over and the flames were being put out. Ironically, while Kentucky hated him, the Union gained a positive view of Sherman. Harsh as he had been, he’d had the chance to explain for Elizabethtown and Bowling Green as being accidents. He claimed the hostile militia had made evacuating the latter city impossible, and so the fire grew too fast. Officially, this is the stance the United States takes on the incidents. In addition to what happened, numerous stories came of how the Confederate attack on Frankfort had seen looting and rioting and violence against the civilian populace that Sherman had never done. To the North, one small, contained fire and one accidental blaze worsened by foolishly hostile townsfolk had been responded to with a brutal sacking and intentional burning. That Beauregard, then seen as the mastermind behind this, and one of the South’s notable generals, had been killed by Sherman was hailed as settling the score.[17]

“But like I said, not in Kentucky. This sequence of events meant that both the Confederate and the Union capitals of Kentucky were gone. And to Kentucks of the time,[18] everyone was to blame. Famously, not long after these events, the Union Army of Kentucky saw mass desertion and refusal to fight, and the same thing occurred amongst the First Kentucky Brigade of the Confederacy. These soldiers went home, to a ruined state. Governor James F. Robinson had died at Frankfort, not evacuating in time due to a belief that Sherman would hold the city. He’d been captured by Confederate soldiers who executed him. Thankfully, much of the General Assembly had evacuated, and convened an emergency meeting. Former Governor Beriah Magoffin was named acting Governor. His first action was to remind President Lincoln, as well as President Davis, as his attempt to ensure Kentucky’s neutrality. This here is his letter. I want you to look at that line there, found in both letters: ‘I warned you, Mr. President, that Kentucky ought be a place of Neutrality. I warned everyone, but they did not listen, and now the mothers of Bowling Green and Frankfort both weep for their children.’[19]

“Kentucky’s General Assembly would again confirm its status as a place of neutrality. The defecting troops that arrived from both sides were deputized as part of the Kentucky State Militia; Sherman and every Confederate commander in the State were promptly told to leave…”[20]

- Master Luke Percival’s History Class, Washington Masonic Academy for Young Men​

[15] Not only is Confederate hold in the state stronger, its been going on continuously in this city for longer without much incident than OTL. Sherman is aslo a man with a terrifying reputation, hence the militia.

[16] Is Sherman burning cities becoming a trope? A little. It’s for a greater and more exciting narrative, I promise, and still feasible.

[17] North-South relations are growing increasingly abysmal if you can’t tell.

[18] ‘Kentuck’ becomes the demonym of Kentucky by the time period this man is speaking, over Kentuckian. They didn’t call themselves Kentucks at that point, but they will.

[19] OTL Kentucky had tried to be a neutral state, and Magoffin had issued statements to that effect, and wanted Kentucky to act as a state to mediate between North and South. Also, a note on the Brigades; it wasn’t uncommon for some soldiers to try and leave when word came of an attack on their homes if they were close by, and the brigades from Kentucky had a pretty strong state identity compared to other units.

[20] Given the chaos, everyone does leave. Both the Union and the Confederacy recognize Kentucky as a state of their federation, with Senators in both Congresses. And with all that's happened, whoever stays looks like an aggressor and monster, flipping the state to join the other side. So everyone clears out, hoping to convince Kentucky to join the ‘winning side’ later.

“As 1863 came to a close, there was still no clear victor in the Civil War. Lee had nearly reached the capital of Pennsylvania, yes, but most saw his retreat as the work of General Daniel Edgar Sickles, leading the Union to believe it now had an answer to Lee.[21] Tennessee had been a disaster for the Union, but the Confederacy had lost some of its best commanders outside of the big three. Missouri was still split between Hood and Burnside, and Kentucky was now pursuing a position of armed neutrality.

Ironically, both nations saw themselves as being in a position of strength. The Confederacy certainly ended things on a high note; North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida had all repelled naval occupation driving the last Union troops from the shores and poking holes in Union’s blockade. They still had no true trade partners, but their own resupply lines could now transit along their coastline. Furthermore, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter had succeeded in getting the Famine Relief and Prevention Act passed through the Confederate Congress.[22] It stipulated subsidized farming of food crops at various plantations, with a renewal of said subsidy for all plantations that maintained a certain production of food in ratio to the amount of land on that plantation. Each state also mobilized a small force of militia men tasked with inspecting plantations to ensure their compliance if they claimed to be growing food. As an added side effect, these ‘Agricultural Inspection Units’ also worked to see if plantations with absent owners were being properly run, and they suppressed a handful of slave riots,[23] as well as imprisoning several men in each state as failing to maintain the land entrusted to them.

While it would take time, the passage of this act soothed many people about the ongoing shortages, and soon enough, with crops able to be transported along much of the coast from any state to places in most need, relief was somewhat given. Food shortages remained even after the war, but a system had been created to try and solve it. Where it failed, people directed their anger not at the Confederate Congress, but at the Union, both during the war and after it…

...The Spring of 1864 was another period of paralysis. Lee was still attempting to rebuild his army, while JEB Stuart was holding Virginia as Stonewall Jackson was shifted over to holding Tennessee. Hood and Burnside remained locked in the same stalemate as before, both declining offers to leave the region after almost two years dancing around each other.[24] The South saw no need to press the war too radically as food shortages were being eased and their armies recovering. Supplies were low, yes, but a raid led by Jackson had secured a train of munitions, and it’s contents were being distributed.

McClellan once again held back, trying to devise a new plan of attack. But conscious in his mind was the fact that 1864 was an election year, and his bid had been accepted as the Democrat ticket for the election. The Copperheads, the faction of Democrats who wanted to sue for peace, believed the general would recognize the hopeless situation and agree to negotiations, especially with Pendleton as Vice President. Meanwhile, the War Democrats felt that having the most successful general in the Union in full command would aid the country in a time of war, removing Lincoln’s meddling and giving McClellan greater authority over generals known to be too reckless.[25]

Lincoln’s popularity at this time was sinking, largely due to the lack of progress in the war. It certainly felt winnable, especially after General Sickles supposedly chased Lee out of the North, but many put blame on Lincoln. It had been on his command that the Army of the Potomac under Hooker left their defensive positions, which some blamed for how Lee was able to move on towards Harrisburg in the first place.[26] Others pointed to Henry Halleck’s less than impressive run as general-in-chief, and word had gotten out that Lincoln had made that decision to spite McClellan. Combined with his controversial actions during the war as President, including the packing of the Supreme Court to approve his decisions, and Lincoln was struggling in the polls. Even those who disliked McClellan were unsure of Lincoln as a President, as it was he who continued to put the man in command while also attempting to work around him.

This, ironically, meant that it was Lincoln who needed military glory. As Spring came and passed, McClellan still had done little beyond assign Sherman to Tennessee, where he gave Stonewall Jackson a good run, but failed to secure a strong decisive victory. McClellan also finally pulled Burnside away from Missouri in April, replacing him with William Rosecrans, who had both Thomas Chamberlain and John C. Frémont under him, the latter thoroughly humiliated to find himself there. As Summer came, the only good news was on the Anaconda Plan blockade, where Generals Henry W. Slocum and Winfield Hancock succeeded in conquering ports in both North Carolina and Georgia, allowing the Union to begin halting Confederate ships along the Atlantic Coast...

...At this point, Lincoln had had it. It was nearly July, and the best McClellan had offered him were a few minor victories in Tennessee and Missouri, all while Confederates were now making inroads into both Arizona and Colorado thanks largely to the efforts of Oklahoma natives under Confederate banners,[27] with Kansas now supposedly having rumbling secession as Confederate sympathizers from other states moved there. This latter point is mostly hearsay, but it was being heard and said by the press, and that was enough for Lincoln. The nation needed more than thinking they had a man to beat Lee. They needed Lee beaten.

Lincoln went directly over McClellan’s head and gave orders to General Sickles, who had thus far been content to sit on his laurels in Maryland and West Virginia. He was given explicit instructions to march towards Virginia proper, aiming right for the heart of the beast: Richmond. He’d be expected to battle Stuart and Lee, two of the Confederacy’s best. Burnside was to aid him, striking towards Stuart to leave Lee to Sickles.

Some say Sickles truly believed he could take on Lee, while others feel he was terrified. Regardless, Sickles went from a bold talker to a cautious commander, his ‘March to Richmond’ slow and hesitant. Whatever his plans were, they were thrown a wrench by the more courageous Burnside, who made right for JEB Stuart’s last known position. They were locked in battle in the West of Virginia, and so that meant it was Sickles and Lee in the East. Sickles was able to actually get in sight of Richmond, which leads many to wonder just what Lee was doing to arrive so late. The fact of the matter was politics. Lee had grown attached to his Army of Appalachia and was trying to train up new recruits, all while bickering with President Davis over what to do in the Eastern and Western Theatres.

It had gotten so bad that Davis at one point told Lee promptly that if he wanted to control the war in its entirety, he was free to do so if he won the election of 1867.[28] Lee retorted that Davis’ increasingly meddling would ensure the war lasted that long. However, Davis was soon preoccupied by growing political criticism amongst the Confederate Congress who, thanks to breathing room they generally had, were focusing on matters beyond the war.

Regardless, Lee did finally engage Sickles directly. It ought to have become a defensive victory, but Sickles called for a retreat as soon as seemed feasible. Apologists of Sickles believe he was trying to be strategic, in fact learning from Lee in beginning a move back towards Union territory before he lost too many men and supplies. Lee was likely to follow, the Army of the Potomac being bait. Others are less forgiving of Sickles, and believe he acted with cowardice.[29]

The pair began a slow back and forth, Sickles always giving ground and Lee determined to stamp him out after seeing time and time again that he had the ability to do so if Sickles would just stay still. For almost two months, Sickles was in the Confederacy, the early weeks crawling to Richmond, but the rest was evading Lee’s desired final battle. In September, Sickles finally got word that Stuart had been subdued, if not beaten, and that Burnside was currently carving east to support him. Sickles decided to begin moving towards Washington, planning to pin Lee between his army and Burnside’s. Lee, however, broke off and went for Burnside, tired of Sickles, who arrogantly stayed on the march to the capital.

Burnside would fail to take on Lee alone and had to retreat only to face a recuperated Stuart. Lee then, spent late September and early October going back towards Sickles, who had actually made use of his time to reclaim the Peninsulas he had once helped win. With Lee on his heels, however, he made for D.C. once again. Finally, at Arlington, Lee had Sickles in his jaws. It was a massacre, Sickles failed to competently command his men, and while several units showed valor and ability on their own, they were unable to coordinate. Lee captured Sickles, who was executed; while officially it was part retaliation for Joseph Johnston, and part Sickles’ own escape attempt where he killed a man, Lee’s diaries report that Sickles had alternated between insulting him and his men and trying to offer a deal for his release, including details on fortifications in DC and West Virginia. This makes some believe that this lead to Lee having Sickles killed in a combination of anger and disgust. Arlington had taken a hard toll on Lee’s psyche and morale, so it is a very likely possibility this is true, as is the escape explanation…”

- The Civil Discourse, free EMT talk show[30]​

[21] Keyword here is that they think they have a solution, not that they have one.

[22] This is actually pretty major. The bill is fake, but the idea had been thought of. OTL the CSA Congress was focused entirely on the war, slapping on temporary fixes to shortages that always failed, until there was rioting in Richmond over food. The situation threatened the war, and even then that only meant they gave it some fixes while putting off long-term solutions. TTL, the war is going far better, so now the Congress is looking to other issues and thinking more long term.

[23] Could these units every become the basis for something authoritarian and dystopic? No, certainly not!

[24] Both of these men were known for getting rather emotional and being stubborn. They want to beat the other man, badly.

[25] This is pretty much the same as OTL.

[26] Thanks to McClellan, Halleck, and Pope, the slow and steady method is being believed as the best tactic even by the public.

[27] This is my way of telling you that Oklahoma is now in full Confederate hands. They’re in a stronger position, and more natives are convinced this could be a better deal than the Union, as well as the fact that they have plantations. This will have serious impacts on Confederate relations with these natives. Meanwhile, they’re supplementing the Texans in the West.

[28] The Confederacy has 6-year presidential terms without reelection.

[29] As is the case in OTL, men like Sickles are always going to be points of debate, especially where more than one viewpoint provides a good explanation for things.

[30] Not ambulance-style EMT. TTL this stands for Electromagnetic Telegraphy. It’s a radio show.

“Okay, okay, okay, okay. I’m good. Really. I’m good.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I just got up too fast.”

“Why were you getting up?”

“To, *hic*, refill my glass!”

“What, hahaha? We, we have more over here.”

“Huh? Oh. Okay.”

“There you… drink up. So, you were saying about the Arlington?”

“Right! That was it. Arlington. Beautiful place.”

“The Battle of Arlington.”

“Oh, yes. Well it was bad. Really bad. Lee won, sure, but he lost a lot of guys, again. And he’d lost a bunch up in Pennsylvania too. So he was like, ‘Nah, man. I’m NOT gonna let any more of my boys die. Imma, imma, imma win this war. Fuck yeah, I am. I’m gonna win it right fucking now.’”[31]

“And that’s verbatim, huh?”

“Might as well be! So he sends a message to Richmond, and Davis, y’know he and Lee didn’t get along. But Davis had this bill he wanted passed, something about expanding the duration of war taxes, and people didn’t like it. Lee knew that, and in his letter, he said, “Ahoy, Davis, my bruv. Look, I need some fucking cannons to shoot at DC. You need someone to help your bill pass. You send me a bunch of cannons, I’ll write to Congress that I think your bill is Bonnie’s tits, yeah?’

“And Davis, he agrees. He’s all, ‘Fuck yeah man. Here’s some cannons.’ And Lee, he goes, ‘Thanks, bruv. Your bill is so awesome, Congress you should pass it.’ And it passes! Lee gets those cannons, and he’s in Arlington, man, in sight of DC, and he just starts hammering. He’s not even trying to really kill anybody. He wants t’ spook ‘em. And that’s… that’s some fucking glacial shit right there. Making everybody scurry. Sometimes he’d fire cannons, but he’d pack ‘em with paper and leaves and cloth n’ stuff so it only made a bang and didn’t do anything, just made people scared of the cannons.”

“How long was he there for?”

“He got there in early October, but he didn’t start shelling until mid-October. But he kept it up. Even when Burnside tried to get him, he kept it going. And Burnside, he actually did win. On like, November 2, he got Lee to retreat, but, y’know word can take a bit to travel and people didn’t know if he was just gonna comeback. So there’s a fucking election going on while all this is happening. People in and around DC are voting still afraid Lee’s about to come shell them again, and the rest of the country still think Lee’s at it!”

“So how did that hurt Lincoln?”

“Oh, c’mon, weren’t you listening? Actually, one second…”

“...Uhm, haha, okay? What… where are you? Hahahahahaha…”

“...Aaaaaand back. Sorry, y’know when a man’s gotta piss, he’s gotta piss. So Lincoln in the election. Look, Lincoln told Sickles to go for it, just go all Jupiter G. Douglas on Lee’s ass. Told McClellan to go suck one, and then just sent Sickles off to go FLB the guy.[32] And everyone knew that. Lincoln wanted that as a win, so people had heard that he wanted results so he sent Sickles to go get them. Instead, Sickles gets his ass stomped into the dirt, and Lee is trying to blow up the capital.

“Way I see it, Lincoln was already probably maybe gonna a lose. But after Arlington, there’s no way in a thousand years he wins that race. At all. Cause everyone was voting. Kentucky voted. West Virginia, only just a state, voted. Missouri, where Jefferson City, the capital, was an active warzone, and damn near everything south of the Missouri River was in Confederate hands? Everything north of the river, plus St. Louis, they voted.[33] Tennessee, where Sherman only had like, half of it? They voted. And they almost all voted McClellan.”

“So McClellan wins the presidency.”[34]


“And do you think he was a better president for handling the war?”

“As my dad would say: Hell. Fucking. No. Because by the time he was President, McClellan was a nervous wreck. He wanted to win, needed to win, but was starting to think he couldn’t. Best thing he ever did was make Sherman general-in-chief. And then one of the worst things he did was just set Sherman loose on Virginia. Because, yknow, they repaired Frankfort. They even repaired Bowling Green. But there wasn’t nothing left in Richmond to repair after Sherman was done with it…”[35]

- Harassing Hammered Historians, Recording 7 Collection 1[36]​

[31] Please feel free to picture this show as including scenes of actors in full period costume mouthing these lines.

[32] Jupiter G. Douglas is a famous fighter of TTL. FLB is military slang that caught on after a war, like FUBAR. FLB was similarly a description of how bad a situation was that got adapted by civilians to mean aggressively destroying something or completely messing something up. FLB = Fucked like-a Bitch.

[33] I’ll let you know now, big clue on Missouri’s future is found in this line.

[34] Now, OTL McClellan only won 8.93% of the Electoral votes. But he won 44.95% of the popular vote. In increasing his overall national popularity and decreasing Lincoln’s, that easily shifts a huge wave of Electoral votes in McClellan’s favor.

[35] And cue the ominous music!

[36] If you can’t tell, this TTL’s version of Drunk History. I also have a version of this show in my other TL, where it’s known as History at the Pub. I love the show, and also love what it lets me do for breaking up dry ‘textbook’ and ‘lecture’ entries in this TL by having some historian being absolutely hammered, cursing and using slang. Also, Recording 7 Collection 1 just mean Episode 7 Season 1.
Burnside would fail to take on Lee alone and had to retreat only to face a recuperated Stuart. Lee then, spent late September and early October going back towards Sickles, who had actually made use of his time to reclaim the Peninsulas he had once helped win. With Lee on his heels, however, he made for D.C. once again. Finally, at Arlington, Lee had Sickles in his jaws. It was a massacre, Sickles failed to competently command his men, and while several units showed valor and ability on their own, they were unable to coordinate. Lee captured Sickles, who was executed; while officially it was part retaliation for Joseph Johnston, and part Sickles’ own escape attempt where he killed a man, Lee’s diaries report that Sickles had alternated between insulting him and his men and trying to offer a deal for his release, including details on fortifications in DC and West Virginia. This makes some believe that this lead to Lee having Sickles killed in a combination of anger and disgust. Arlington had taken a hard toll on Lee’s psyche and morale, so it is a very likely possibility this is true, as is the escape explanation…”

Ahh Sickles....schemer to the end.
“Kentucky’s General Assembly would again confirm its status as a place of neutrality. The defecting troops that arrived from both sides were deputized as part of the Kentucky State Militia; Sherman and every Confederate commander in the State were promptly told to leave…”

Please tell me the Kentucky Militia is led by Colonel Sanders
Right, so, I fibbed a little. As it turns out the war is going to need at least one more part, as you can see by it not ending here. Though I believe I can wrap up the war itself but the end of Part #3. The immediate effects will, of course, take more to cover.
Another TL Xanthoc? Well, I can’t really complain about it. This one seems to shaping up just as excellent as NOAH has!

I don’t know if this part is true or just a story made up to jive with what Sherman would go on to say in his political career.

And, uh, political career??? Are we getting Sherman as a Senator or a political party leader?